Thursday December 7th


US futures point to flat open as tax reform news takes center stage

U.S. stocks futures pointed to flat open on Thursday, as investors await more developments concerning an overhaul of the U.S. tax system. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 38 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 0.25 points and 19 points, respectively. In the previous session, U.S. equities finished relatively mixed, with the Nasdaq lifted by an uptick in technology stocks. The rest of the U.S. market closed slightly lower as investors awaited more details as to what the final tax reform would look like from Congress. Consequently, the muted trading performance on Wall Street somewhat influenced stocks in Asia and in Europe on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 bounced 1.45 percent, or 320.99 points, to close at 22,498.03 after falling nearly 2 percent in the previous session. Across the Korean Strait, the benchmark Kospi index slipped 0.5 percent to end at 2,461.98. Greater China markets were mixed. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.3 percent by 3:50 p.m. HK/SIN, clawing back some gains after recording its largest fall in a year on Wednesday. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite lost 0.67 percent to close at 3,272 and the Shenzhen Composite edged down by 0.6 percent to end at 1,868.42. Dell Technologies, Dollar General, Vail Resorts, American Outdoor Brands and Cloudera are just some of the names set to publish their latest earnings Thursday. Elsewhere, jobless claims are expected to come out at 8:30 a.m. ET, followed by Quarterly Services Survey data at 10 a.m. ET. Consumer credit is expected to be released later on in the day, at 3 p.m. ET. In politics, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that the American embassy would be moved there, even though officials recently said the relocation could take "years". The announcement was met with condemnation worldwide, from Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East, to the United Nations and European Union; with the latter two institutions both voicing fears about what ramifications the decision would have on the peace-making process between Israel and Palestine. The overhaul in the U.S. tax system continues to sway market sentiment. The U.S. Senate voted to go to a conference committee with the House on Wednesday, in order to negotiate a plan when it comes to reforming the current system. The Senate voted 51-47 in favor, with Republicans hoping to secure an agreement on a tax proposal by Christmas. William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, is expected to attend the "Higher Education Financing and Costs and Returns of Higher Education" event in New York. Elsewhere, Bitcoin broke above the $14,000 mark, less than 24 hours after the cryptocurrency passed the $12,000 milestone. Oil prices rose on Thursday in a sign that investors are wary of pushing the market lower in response to an unexpectedly large rise in U.S. stocks of refined products that has increased concern about the demand outlook. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were up 36 cents at $61.58 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 18 cents to $56.14 a barrel at 8:17 a.m. ET (1317 GMT), after having fallen nearly 3 percent on Wednesday. Gold prices dropped to their lowest level in four months on Thursday as the dollar rose underpinned by optimism surrounding tax reform in the United States. Spot gold fell 0.5 percent to $1,257.70 an ounce by 0707 GMT, after marking its lowest since Aug. 8 at $1,255.80. U.S. gold futures were also down 0.5 percent at $1,259.90.